About five years ago, a young sales person received offers from two potential employers.  He was going out of town to enjoy time with friends and make his decision.  As he waited in the airport security line, he saw an ad from one of the two companies.  He took it as a “sign” and joined that company.  To him, that ad was telling him what he should do.  Although many of us relish in making our own, un-aided decisions, a little nudge from above is generally welcomed.

Google, Facebook and LinkedIn, through their ad platforms, allow businesses to nudge individual consumers and other businesses to consider their products and services through remarketing.  Once an individual or a business person visits the website of a particular business, that business can attach a “cookie” (a text file that is saved in your web browser when you visit a website) that will identify them as a previous visitor.  Then, as that individual or business person traverses the Internet, they will see advertisements from that business on multiple sites.  Most people understand this process and are not surprised by it.  Although some find it invasive, remarketing does successfully drive traffic back to the sponsoring business for a second look (assuming the ads/offers are compelling).

However, that is “reactive” marketing.  Now, let’s take a look at “proactive” IP address targeting.  Although it has been around since approximately 2016, its benefits to marketers are just now being more openly applied.  Every physical address which has Internet connectivity also has what’s called an IP address assigned to it that refers to its location, whether a home or place of business.  IP address targeting has been used successfully within political campaigns where a body of IP addresses are targeted for certain political messages.  IP address targeted ads are a proactive way to put a specific message in-front of a specific audience at a specific time.  Fitting into the definition of “hyper-targeted” advertising, companies pay for online ad impressions only to be displays to a targeted audience.

  Targeting like-minded individuals or consumers with similar purchasing habits can more effectively and cost-efficiently drive sales, campaign votes, favorable opinions, etc.

Proactive online marketing in the traditional sense was generally limited to Search Engine Optimization (organic keyword growth) and Pay-Per-Click (paying for premium placement on the first page of results for a particular keyword entered).  In the scope of general marketing, this is still a very effective way to encourage people to learn about your products, services, and brand.  However, from a business-to-business (B2B) perspective, how can you put that perfect message, to that prospective client, in a subtle but meaningful way?  Let’s say you began discussions with a large company about providing help desk services.  This was based upon hearing they were dissatisfied with their current vendor and were looking to make a change.  And, you knew where the decision-makers were located.  Perhaps the business decision-makers were located at their corporate headquarters and their IT decision-makers were located in another building.  In working with an IP Address targeting company, you would provide them with the physical addresses, they would determine their IP addresses and an approximate number of users of the Internet at those locations on a daily and monthly basis.  Some IP address marketing companies have monthly impression minimums (i.e. 30,000) which can be easily satisfied by one large location or, if the same ad creative and landing page is used, multiple IP addresses for that company.

In the case mentioned above, the company wanting to win the help desk business could begin proactive IP address marketing to both locations two weeks before an RFP is circulated and continue for the remainder two weeks after their response has been submitted.  Decision-makers and influencers would be receiving subtle ads about the company’s proficiency at help desk services, their ITIL framework, best practices, etc. while traversing the Internet.  The “serendipity” part comes into play when decision-makers keep seeing ads for the bidding company and nothing from their competitors.  And, should a decision-maker click on one of the ads, they will be directed to the bidding company’s Help Desk Services page which may contain more or different information than was entered into the RFP response.  After they leave the page, the company’s remarketing activities will kick-in and continue to provide different ads on the decision-maker’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages.  According to Statista, 77% of Americans have a social media profile.

Selling, and/or marketing, to other businesses needs to begin well-before the RFP stage.  Personal relationships must be cultivated while, in concert, specific messaging needs to be conveyed.  Proactive, hyper-targeted advertising to a select group or company can condition thinking in your favor.  IP address marketing messages should be crisp, effective, relevant and leave the individual wanting to know more (which is just a click away).

There are signs everywhere.

Tony Streeter is the Chief Marketing Officer, SVP at Y&L Consulting, Inc. in San Antonio, Texas. Mr. Streeter has led new product development, Ecommerce marketing, and integrated platform marketing initiatives for major companies such as Harland Clarke, Deluxe Corporation and RR Donnelley. Currently, Mr. Streeter leads marketing and branding initiatives for Y&L Consulting, a comprehensive IT Services & Solutions company specializing in IT Development, Information Management/BI, and Service Desk Services.